Monday, March 21, 2011

FDA Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee recommends removal of menthol cigarettes from the marketplace

The 231-page draft report from the FDA Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee (TPSAC), the result of nearly a year of hearings and analysis, as well as testimony from a number of experts and stakeholders, was issued late last week.

An “industry perspective” report is expected this week and will be posted on the FDA Tobacco Products website.

TPSAC’s overall recommendation to the FDA is: “Removal of menthol cigarettes from the marketplace would benefit public health in the United States.”
Menthol: rendered from

Support for this recommendation comes from a number of studies including work showing that menthol increases the positive effects of nicotine in some smokers and reduces the negative effects in others:

“Thus menthol is not simply a flavoring agent but has drug‐like characteristics that modulate the effects of nicotine on the smoker. The consequences of these effects for menthol cigarette smokers are twofold: the sensory stimulation from the “throat grab” of menthol could provide greater reinforcement of smoking behavior, and the reduced irritation provided by lower levels of menthol could lessen aversion to initial self‐administration of nicotine among novice smokers, thereby facilitating continued smoking that leads to addiction” (TPSAC draft menthol report (03/18/11) to FDA, page 26).

However, the report did not recommend a outright menthol ban, a move that received mixed reviews from antismoking advocates and positive reviews from tobacco company stockholders: the share price of Lorrillard, Inc., a tobacco manufacturer deriving the majority of its revenue from mentholated cigarettes, was up today more than 13% over last Thursday’s market closing price.

The FDA will review the final TPSAC report and continue to study the issue, and will provide its own report in about 90 days.

CPDDBLOG welcomes CPDD member’s thoughts on this issue.

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